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barefootskater
barefootskater Dork
11/8/19 12:57 p.m.

Google is flush with EV conversion kits and sites that specialize in this stuff to the point that I'm hesitant to go in without some idea of where to start looking.

The idea: (and it might be looney-toons) My VW will be needing the engine completely overhauled one way or another. A fancy NA build with good stuff that won't leave me wanting for more power would cost around $4k, take about $1000 off it it gets there with boost. The goal is a light, low, weekend warrior/autocross car. With such limited use in mind, why not convert to EV? If the cost is within say $1000, and if I could get maybe 75-100 mile range without a huge weight disadvantage...

Quick googling shows a million kits and companies specializing in VW conversions. They all seem to be $15-20k though. Could the mechanically inclined put together something like this? has battery tech improved and the cost dropped enough that it could be done without using 800lbs of 6/12v cart batteries? Keep in mind I wouldn't need regen braking or fast charging.  Maybe a stereo, LED lights and that sort of thing though.

Point me in the right direction, call me crazy, whatever. Thanks all.

FuzzWuzzy
FuzzWuzzy HalfDork
11/8/19 1:43 p.m.

Find yourself a wrecked/cheap Nissan Leaf and transplant will be my best guess.

I'm on DIY EV FB groups and it seems like for a car to be somewhat decent, you're looking at $10k give or take; the battery packs being the most expensive thing.

chaparral
chaparral Dork
11/8/19 2:09 p.m.

Anything without Li batteries will be a complete slug; and it takes $10,000 worth of Li batteries to get a decent range. 

barefootskater
barefootskater Dork
11/8/19 2:25 p.m.

Could a Leaf battery be re-purposed for a different car? Are these things super difficult or is a battery a battery? I know very little about this stuff.

rob_lewis
rob_lewis UltraDork
11/8/19 3:23 p.m.
barefootskater said:

Could a Leaf battery be re-purposed for a different car? Are these things super difficult or is a battery a battery? I know very little about this stuff.

I know zilch, but could any EV or hybrid battery be re-purposed?  Could you junkyard buy ones out of Prius's and hook them together to save costs?

-Rob

 

Robbie
Robbie MegaDork
11/8/19 3:23 p.m.

You can definitely repurpose a leaf or Kona ev battery. 

And they are cheap on eBay ;)

I still think the best would be to take an entire leaf and use everything though. Much cheaper than the aftermarket conversion stuff and probably better.

Here's a thread I'm reading through where a guy puts 302 hp through a leaf motor. And I think his controller is featured on hackaday.

https://endless-sphere.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=30&t=63982&start=200

GIRTHQUAKE
GIRTHQUAKE HalfDork
11/8/19 4:15 p.m.

 I would do research through Endless Sphere and other EV forums first. The "DIY Lithium Batteries" book by Toll I'm reading right now has some great information on their use and principles.

barefootskater said:

Could a Leaf battery be re-purposed for a different car? Are these things super difficult or is a battery a battery? I know very little about this stuff.

Of course it could! A battery is a battery, most of the time (lithium polymer). The real problem you'll have for a project like this is going to be the capacity of the battery itself- the first gen Leaf only air-cooled the pack instead of liquid cooled and it killed the pack's range and use through aggressive heat cycles. Tons of Leaf cells go for very cheap now because they're ~70% of their original capacity from just 7 years ago. 

The other problem is, unless you make custom axels and mount the motor 'unit' in an odd way (like tipped 'down') you'll have to do some cutting or find a different motor to use. Most EV conversion kits mount an AC motor to the transmission so they don't have to custom-make axels and keep the cutting/reshaping of metal to a minimum. 

Still tho, I think you can do it if you really hunt for different batteries and shop used. Be prepared to ditch the original controller for a new one if you go for a different battery, as it 'controls' the voltage and draw from the pack into the motor.

Andy Neuman
Andy Neuman SuperDork
11/8/19 4:29 p.m.

I quit on the idea of a cheap EV conversion when google said did you mean "inexpensive EV conversion."

Ian F
Ian F MegaDork
11/8/19 4:33 p.m.
barefootskater said:

Could a Leaf battery be re-purposed for a different car? Are these things super difficult or is a battery a battery? I know very little about this stuff.

One of Jay Leno's projects is a Leaf system in an old original EV from the early 1900's.  He's talked about it in various "project status" videos and in the last one a month or so ago said it was very close to being done.  That said, he sourced new components directly from Nissan (celebrity has its advantages).

I'm on the DIYElectricCar.com forum, although I'm not sure how useful it is.

sleepyhead the buffalo
sleepyhead the buffalo Mod Squad
11/9/19 1:31 a.m.

Another thought is that a beetle is light enough that you could buy a wrecked zero srf (?) or other of their road bike?  It might be short on range initially?

 I think there's a similar project with a t-bucket on YouTube, although the guy's work and ppe use would make Stampie look like a welding class teacher that works for OSHA.

SVreX
SVreX MegaDork
11/9/19 7:50 a.m.

Come on, guys!  $10K is not a grassroots DIY number. 

We have reached the point where an EV can be built for challenge money.  It’s starts with a wrecked Leaf, and involves building your own controller. It’s a butt load of work (with a few compromises in the outcome)

$5K is a better budget. 

$10k is buying somebody else’s kit. 

mazdeuce - Seth
mazdeuce - Seth Mod Squad
11/9/19 7:54 a.m.

In reply to sleepyhead the buffalo :

Are wrecked Zeros down to Challenge money? The last I looked that stuff is still expensive. 

 

Dave M
Dave M HalfDork
11/9/19 7:54 a.m.
SVreX said:

Come on, guys!  $10K is not a grassroots DIY number. 

We have reached the point where an EV can be built for challenge money.  It’s starts with a wrecked Leaf, and involves building your own controller. It’s a butt load of work (with a few compromises in the outcome)

$5K is a better budget. 

$10k is buying somebody else’s kit. 

Until batteries are cheaper, I don't know that a challenge budget is realistic. Isn't a wrecked Leaf battery worth well over $2k?

SVreX
SVreX MegaDork
11/9/19 8:02 a.m.

In reply to Dave M :

Not if you buy the entire car and sell off the unneeded parts. 

Wrecked Leafs can be had for $2500. $3500 is pretty common. 

Dave M
Dave M HalfDork
11/9/19 8:15 a.m.
SVreX said:

In reply to Dave M :

Not if you buy the entire car and sell off the unneeded parts. 

Wrecked Leafs can be had for $2500. $3500 is pretty common. 

Wow! That's super exciting. I wonder if the battery is damaged though? I guess the batteries must be super old or something so that you'd only get like 10kwh out of them? Plenty for the challenge but not much for a road car.

SVreX
SVreX MegaDork
11/9/19 8:33 a.m.

In reply to Dave M :

A wrecked car was running when it was hit. Batteries were working.

Agreed.  Might need a bigger budget for a daily driver.

sleepyhead the buffalo
sleepyhead the buffalo Mod Squad
11/9/19 8:44 a.m.
mazdeuce - Seth said:

In reply to sleepyhead the buffalo :

Are wrecked Zeros down to Challenge money? The last I looked that stuff is still expensive. 

The project I've adroitly referenced picked up a 2016 Zero S w/ 13kmi w/ a cracked frame for $3200 (not including fees, iirc) from IAA.  There's a comment in that someone else picked up the same for $2200.  But, as with anything IAA/Copart... it'll depend on the lot/timing. 

MrChaos
MrChaos SuperDork
11/9/19 8:51 a.m.
Dave M said:
SVreX said:

In reply to Dave M :

Not if you buy the entire car and sell off the unneeded parts. 

Wrecked Leafs can be had for $2500. $3500 is pretty common. 

Wow! That's super exciting. I wonder if the battery is damaged though? I guess the batteries must be super old or something so that you'd only get like 10kwh out of them? Plenty for the challenge but not much for a road car.

you can buy running clean 1st gen leafs for like 4500-6500 so a wrecked car might not be needed.

nimblemotorsports
nimblemotorsports Reader
11/9/19 11:19 a.m.

There is no EV conversion that has acceptable range and performance for $5k.

 

barefootskater
barefootskater Dork
11/9/19 11:35 a.m.

So here is an idea that may get easier as battery tech improves. Ev conversion with several modular battery packs. Put all the batteries in for regular use and max range. Pull up to the track and unload 2/3 of them for weight loss and party. I love a good engine, the smells, the feel and especially the noise. But electric has so many awesome advantages. Even if you need to replace battery packs every few years I can't see it costing more than fuel and engine rebuilds. 

barefootskater
barefootskater Dork
11/9/19 11:41 a.m.
nimblemotorsports said:

There is no EV conversion that has acceptable range and performance for $5k.

 

And you can't run consistent 10s for less than $2k

nimblemotorsports
nimblemotorsports Reader
11/9/19 11:58 a.m.
barefootskater said:
nimblemotorsports said:

There is no EV conversion that has acceptable range and performance for $5k.

 

And you can't run consistent 10s for less than $2k

If you have to ask how to do it,  you can't do it.

SVreX
SVreX MegaDork
11/9/19 11:59 a.m.

In reply to barefootskater :

Thank you. 

barefootskater
barefootskater Dork
11/9/19 12:19 p.m.

In reply to nimblemotorsports :

I may not be the guy to do it. Skills are questionable and knowledge is definitely lacking. But saying it can't be done, especially here, isn't an acceptable response. 
You may be right though, for now. The stuff does seem pretty expensive. But that will change. Soon. Possibly sooner than this particular project gets underway. 

SVreX
SVreX MegaDork
11/9/19 8:19 p.m.

I didn’t just throw out a random fabricated statement. An EV challenge car CAN be built. NOW. 

That doesn’t make it a price point to build a daily driver, but there absolutely is a formula right now that could bring an EV to the $2000 Challenge. 

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